Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday music: "Something About You," Level 42; plus a bonus

The 1980s brought a lot of bad music, among which should not be numbered the British jazzy-rocky group Level 42. Formed around 1980, they had a 1985 hit "Something About You." Here's a live 1990 performance:

Bass player Mark King (who should have spit out his gum, but oh well) is a prodigious talent, who brought a whole different "feel" to the bass line. Here, at no extra charge whatever, is a brief clip of the fireworks King had in his case.


Robert said...

Impressive. I wonder does he only chew the gum when he is singing? That would seem a bit odd to me, but to each his own, I guess.

DJP said...

I think it's very unprofessional (and inconsiderate) to chew gum when people are having to look at you. I've seen elders do it in church services; were I the pastor, I'd threaten to make them wear the gum on their nose for the remainder of the service. (A threat I got from a pastor who said the same to the groomsmen in a wedding party.)

Now, some folks have medical conditions like dry mouth, and need gum. But I've seen other vids with King, and he's not chewing gum in any of them.

David Regier said...

I had totally forgotten about these guys. I think I had the vinyl way back when.

Maybe it's just to prove he could sing, play complicated bass riffs, and chew gum at the same time. Not many bass players are frontman singers.

Robert said...


I totally agree. I'll confess that I've been very bad about chewing gum at all kinds of bad times, but it is horribly distracting. I am reminded of the scene with the oompa-loompas from Willy Wonka where they sing about how chewing gum all the time is a bad thing...that gum-chewing character in the movie was quite annoying...not as much as the brat who wanted the golden egg, but still pretty bad.

Unknown said...

In hiring at all levels, if someone comes into the interview with gum in their mouth, interview over. I gave someone more time with a toothpick in their mouth. Gum is for long drives, airplanes, center-fielders, and PE teachers.

DJP said...

Preach it.

threegirldad said...

"There will be no gum-chewing while you are in this class. It makes you look like a cow chewing on its cud, and the motion practically hypnotizes me--especially if several of you are doing it at the same time."
(One of my college professors)

[word verification: obamesse
As Dave Barry would say, "I swear I'm not making this up."]

DJP said...

Well, I have to admit, that's exactly what I think as I look out on an audience with a few whose jaws, though it is not mealtime, are moving in that manner.

tobekiwi said...

That was a fun blast from the past. Didn't recognize the group's name, or song title, and had no idea the bass player was that talented.
A giraffe now comes to mind when I see someone chewing gum...hmmm.

Spoudason said...

Enough about the gum. What about the music? Great harmonies for a live show. Duet between a sax and guitar? That is rare. Mark King with his Alembic bass is a real treat. Impressive. Thanks

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oh you are bringing back memories... mid-eighties, wow. I remember that song. Had no idea it was that bass player - not common as a lead singer, yah?

About the gum... one of my grasshoppers could be the poster child for ADHD. Has a terrible time concentrating on his school work. He believes gum and/or mints helps him focus, so as long as he's working I let him chew all he wants. The advantages of homeschooling...

But not in church or at other public events!

My mom used to say:

The gum-chewing student,
The cud-chewing cow,
Look quite alike,
But they're different somehow.
And what is the difference?
I see it all now.
It's the intelligent look
on the face of the cow.

Unknown said...

I love this song. Easily one of my favorites from the 80's, and I'm a child of that decade.

In fact, my college a cappella group sang this song, and the bass part was especially fun to sing (though not nearly a complicated as the actual bass line, obviously).

We spit our gum out before each performance, though. ;-)

David Beirne said...

There was another famous band in the 80s (and 70s, 90s, and 00s)whose bass player was the singer. Rush.

DJP said...

Peter Cetera. Chicago.

JackW said...

They were all just trying to catch up to Jack Bruce.

Unknown said...

Sting. The Police.
Les Claypool. Primus.
Paul McCartney. Wings & The Beatles.
Doug Pinnick. King's X.

This list could be longer, but the key difference is that Mark King is in the otherworldly adept and innovative category (in which I would also include Les Claypool), as opposed to merely serviceable to skilled bass players who also sing lead.

DJP said...

Wouldn't you say Les Claypool was, if not oversubtle, at least somewhat innovative?

Never saw anything in McCartney as a bass player.

Really think Pete Cetera is underrated as a bass player; many songs, what I hum to myself is the bass line. (Thinking of the end of "All Is Well Again," and some turns of "What's This World Coming To?")

Unknown said...

Absolutely, Les Claypool was innovative (that's what I meant to say in my previous comment, however obtusely). While the subject matter of Primus' songs were, err, often less than redeeming, there's no question that Mr. Claypool ekes sounds out of his 6-string in an envelope pushing manner.

To re-iterate, Mark King and Les Claypool belong in the "how does he DO that?!" category of bass players who also sing lead. Geddy Lee and Doug Pinnick belong in the good to exceptional category. Sting and Paul McCartney, not so much.

My exposure to the band Chicago began with Chicago 17, so I don't have a strong opinion about Peter Cetera's bass skillz prior to that album (which I know on this blog is a form of blasphemy, but I can't help in which decade I was born ...)

I will tell you that "Saturday In the Park" was another song in my a cappella group's repertoire. Do I get any points for that?

I just thought of another bass player/lead singer: Roger Waters. Pink Floyd.

I need to stop now.

DJP said...

Also Chicago's current bass player, Jason Scheff. Very nice guy, not a great singer, technically better bass than Pete (but I like Pete).

Pete lays in a nice bit on the end of SitP.

17's a good album, but you've missed their best.